One of the biggest issues I have with so many politicians isn’t just that they think gun control is the way to fight violence, it’s that they think it’s the only way to combat violence. We keep hearing from them that opposition to gun control is tacit support for mass shooters and other criminals despite absolutely no evidence that gun control would actually stop such events from occurring.
And it’s almost universal among the gun control crowd. Few if any seem to even acknowledge other potential solutions existing.
Which is why it’s shocking that Sen. Cory Booker’s latest plan doesn’t mention gun control.
On Wednesday, Booker and Rep. Steven Horsford (D-NV) introduced the Break the Cycle of Violence Act, which would dedicate $90 million a year over 10 years to US cities to tackle urban gun violence. The funds could go to hospital-based intervention programs that try to help gunshot victims before they retaliate against their shooters or are victimized again, street “interrupters” and other outreach workers who intervene in local conflicts to prevent violence from spreading, and strategies that target, with police and other social services, the small segments of the population responsible for most urban violence.
As criminal justice scholar Thomas Abt explained in his book Bleeding Out, the idea behind the strategy, called “focused deterrence,” is to focus on a small segment of the population with a mix of law enforcement and public health resources — simultaneously showing that there’s a way out of the cycle of violence but, if people don’t get out, there will be serious legal consequences. The strategy has also been credited with the “Boston miracle,” a 79 percent drop in violent crime in the city in the 1990s.
That’s just one of the several ideas that Booker and Horsford’s bill would fund, tackling the kind of gun violence that rarely grabs national headlines but disproportionately hurts poor and minority communities.
“Often when we talk about gun violence, the discussion focuses on deadly mass shootings, but in my neighborhood in Newark and urban cities across the country people are experiencing this on a daily basis,” Booker said in a statement.“The epidemic of everyday gun violence that is ravaging our urban communities has been overlooked for too long, even as many neighborhoods have gun injury rates similar to war zones.”
The proposal sounds not dissimilar from one passed in Jackson, MI earlier this week, just minutes before a 12-year-old boy was shot. The news report on that one didn’t mention the “focused deterrence” aspect, however.
Frankly, I think that’s important. It serves as a warning to these groups that yes, the police know what they’ve been up to and the kind of things they may be planning to do in the future and that should they continue, they’ll go to jail but if they don’t, here’s all the things they can do for them. It’s a carrot and the stick approach, which I’ve always believed to be the most beneficial.
The issue when it comes to violence isn’t guns and it never has been guns. Once upon a time, a teenager could have a machine gun delivered to your front porch with nothing more than a check or money order in the right amount. We didn’t have some of this kind of violence in those days despite the easy access to guns.
No, the issue is something else within our culture has shifted. A lot of it can be tied to the rise of the gangs.
Plans like this can, at least in theory, provide a warning that they’re being watched and offer them a way out. Of course, those threats need to be followed through on, but providing an escape hatch is something some of these people may be looking for.
I hate to say it, but I’m intrigued by Booker’s plan. I’m not crazy about tax dollars going for things like this, but I’d much rather see it go for things like this than Beto O’Rourke-style gun confiscation schemes.